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Has the US treasury department imposed visa sanctions on Kenyan politicians for backing violent political protests? No, press release fake

IN SHORT: A press release from the US treasury department is circulating on social media, claiming four Kenyan politicians will be sanctioned for their links to “sponsored violence”. But it’s a fake document, and should be ignored.

“Treasury sanctions four Kenyan politicians linked to sponsored violence,” reads the title on what seems to be a press release from the US Department of the Treasury, circulating on Facebook as a screenshot.

It is dated 29 March 2023.

A section of the text in the screenshot reads: “The Treasury Department is taking action against these individuals after establishing that they planned and sponsored violence on Monday March 27, 2023. Their actions were meant to silence dissent, limit freedom of speech and the press; degrade the rule of law; perpetuate violent conflicts; undermine economic markets; and generally, undermine democracy in Kenya.”

On 9 March Raila Odinga, the leader of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and the Azimio la Umoja coalition, announced the start of mass action protests against the high cost of living and what he has called the abuse of power by William Ruto’s government. 

It has been reported that the United Democratic Alliance, of which Ruto is the leader, wants to hold Odinga’s supporters responsible for the destruction of property during the protests. A university student was killed in clashes between the police and protesters.

The screenshot of the press release has been shared here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

But is this really a document released by the US treasury department? We checked.


‘This is FAKE!’ says US embassy

The US embassy in Nairobi posted a link to an article reporting the image doing the rounds was fake, on the embassy’s official Twitter account

“This is FAKE! #StopReflectVerify,” the tweet reads.

Looking more closely at the document in the screenshot, we noted some inconsistencies with the treasury department’s website. In the screenshot circulating on Facebook there are no icons to share the press release to social media, unlike in this other press release

We also checked the list of press releases for 29 March, and did not find the one circulating on social media.

For more information on how to avoid falling for fake images and videos online, watch our video on how to verify images and videos.

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